Stella: modern Italian cuisine
Photos courtesy of
Lacey Elaine Dillard
Stella, a new spot in the ever-growing Midtown section of OKC, is the perfect name for a restaurant that is distinctly feminine, intimate, romantic and trendy. Stella seems like a little boutique bistro you might find in New York City or Chicago. As such, it is a unique and much-welcomed to OKC’s food scene.
I have been to Stella at night and also for lunch and happy hour. During the day time, the huge splash of windows create a cheery atmosphere suitable for interactions with friends and business associates. At night, however, the atmosphere is much more intimate and romantic, making it better for a date night than for simply hanging out with friends.
On a recent dinner visit, my husband and I sat in one of several two-top tables in the bar area. Though this was a well-traveled portion of the restaurant, the lighting and design helped to still encourage a romantic atmosphere. In fact, the lights were almost turned down too low to the point that it was hard to read the menu.
The first thing you notice when looking over the menu is the presence of local ingredients like J-M Farm mushrooms, local honey, and Prairie Thunder bread. This is a huge plus as far as I am concerned. They also had a changing, seasonal menu. I visited in the fall and the menu offered touches of fall flavors and a fall drink list specially tailored by their head bartender. Nice touch. My husband had a glass of Chianti ($7) from their extensive, though somewhat pricey, list. I had a pear bellini that was refreshing and easy to sip throughout the night.
The experience starts well with fresh (and local) bread accompanied by a plate of olive oil with fresh garlic cloves soaking in the bottom. Our waiter put our bread in the wood fire oven for a couple of minutes before bringing it to our table piping hot and perfectly crispy. Unfortunately, he didn’t do that for the subsequent bread he brought to our table, which didn’t live up to that first yummy batch.
We both started with soup — mine a butternut squash and his a white bean and bacon concoction (each $3.50 a cup). The butternut squash soup had a perfectly creamy texture and great flavor. It was topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh ground pepper at the table, which added just enough of a kick. It was warm and a good portion. The white bean and bacon however was a little bland for me, with not nearly enough bacon flavor, in my opinion.
My husband decided to go with the risotto of the day, which that day was a pancetta and red pepper blend. It had nice chunks of pancetta and was adequately creamy, but I have to say I have had better risottos. I love that they have a daily rotating option though, and will definitely be trying a different one again. My husband, who isn’t really one for flowerly words, said it “was pretty good,” so take that for what it’s worth.
With the wood-burning oven sitting right in front of our table at the bar, I couldn’t resist going with the Italian sausage, red onion, fresh mozzarella and arugula pizza ($13). It came out straight from the oven, with a cracker-thin crust. I found the amount of arugula to be a bit much on the pizza, so I picked some of it off. But what was left was absolutely delicious. Our waiter sprinkled freshly ground parmesan on top and the Italian sausage had a great seasoning and was well ground for pizza slices. Overall, I think the pizza is the star here.
We ended the evening with a piece of tiramisu ($8), my husband’s favorite. It was a twist on the original with a citrus cream flavor that I found interesting but my husband was not fond of. The piece was big and seemed freshly-made and gave a unique spin on this well-loved standard.
Throughout the meal, our waiter was adequately attentive, but mostly left us alone, which fit with the romantic/intimate atmosphere.
Overall, Stella is a much-needed, high-style addition to the Midtown area. The food is pricey (our total bill was $68 including tip), but it is fresh, local and diverse. Plus, the atmosphere definitely encourages an intimate experience at night while capturing a more casual vibe during the day. I think it will definitely become part of our rotation.
Have you tried Stella, either at night or during the day? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
More Photos from Stella
Photos by Lacey Elaine Dillard